COVID-19: New Zealanders in the UK - Frequently Asked Questions

This information addresses some of the frequently asked questions we're receiving from New Zealanders travelling to, or living in, the United Kingdom.

Where to find information about COVID-19 in the UK and NZ

For up-to-date guidance on the UK Government's COVID-19 response, please refer to the GOV.UK(external link) website.

For up-to-date guidance on the NZ Government's COVID-19 response, please refer to the COVID19.GOVT.NZ(external link) website.

 

The following information covers:

  • UK Border Measures
  • Brexit Implications for Travel
  • Travelling to New Zealand
  • Transiting through Singapore to get to New Zealand
  • Pre-departure COVID-19 testing for entry to New Zealand
  • Other frequently asked travel questions - New Zealanders in the UK
  • British nationals in New Zealand - how to get assistance
  • NHS advice
  • Consular assistance

If you have an enquiry for the High Commission, please send an email to: enquiries@nzhc.uk and include your telephone number (including area code) if you would like someone to call you back. Please check your spam/junk folder if you do not hear back from us within one working day of sending your email.

 

UK Border Measures

For those wishing to travel out of the UK:

There are no longer any restrictions on leaving England to travel internationally (except to ‘red’ list countries). However, to protect public health in the UK and the vaccine rollout, you should not travel to countries or territories on the UK’s red list(external link).

If you travel abroad, you should look at the rules in place at your destination (e.g. visa and pre-departure test requirements). See SafeTravel(external link) and Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) travel advice(external link). You should do this even if you are returning to a place you have visited before.

In addition, several countries and airlines have put in place temporary travel restrictions for travellers from the UK. You should consider the public health advice in your destination and transit countries before departing.

Please note: The devolved administrations (Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland) have their own independent guidance relating to COVID-19(external link).

If you are concerned about implications for any intended travel, including to New Zealand, we strongly encourage you to contact your travel provider, airline or travel agent directly. We also encourage you to monitor the UK Government website(external link) for further details. 

If your travel to New Zealand is affected as a result of travel regulations, please ensure you update your MIQ booking to correctly reflect any changes to your travel plans. More information and contact information is available on the dedicated MIQ website(external link).

For those seeking to enter the UK:

Since Monday 4 October 2021, the rules for international travel to England changed from the red, amber, green traffic light system to a single red list of countries and simplified travel measures for arrivals from the rest of the world. The rules for travel from countries and territories not on the red list will depend on your vaccination status.

See the GOV.UK website(external link) for full details. 

Managed quarantine in hotels:  This is for travellers arriving from (including those who have transited through) the UK’s ‘red-list’ countries where international travel bans have been imposed(external link), and who cannot be refused entry, 

The managed quarantine hotel booking portal, and detailed guidance, is here(external link).

We encourage you to continue to monitor the UK Government's website(external link) directly for further updates.

 

Brexit Implications for travel

The UK has now left the EU, and the transition period (which has kept rules the same as if the UK was inside the EU) will come to an end on 31 December 2020.

For guidance on how this might affect you, particularly if you are intending to travel to the EU over this period, you should look at the UK government’s Brexit information(external link).

It is possible that changes as a result of Brexit may result in longer queues at UK and EU ports of entry and exit. If you have concerns about upcoming travel, you should refer to your travel provider, e.g. airlines or Eurostar or ferry companies. You should allow extra time for checking in, ensure your passport has at least six months of validity remaining, and you should also check guidance from the EU Member State that you are travelling to about their visa/entry requirements.

Before you travel, check if there have been any changes to (for example) your right to medical care in Europe, your travel insurance, driver license requirements within Europe (for example, if you need an International Driver Permit), your UK mobile phone plan and roaming charges in Europe, and any COVID-related entry requirements.

We strongly encourage you to take out travel insurance for any travel you intend to undertake, including EU visits. If you already have travel insurance, you should check that it still applies in the same way post January 2021.  Check the terms and conditions of insurance and airline tickets for travel after 1 January 2021. Your airline may not refund your ticket or provide compensation in the event of any Brexit related disruption. 

Travelling to New Zealand

From 11:59pm 27 February 2022, the New Zealand Government began to remove the requirement for managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ)(external link) and self-isolation for some travellers. 

For full details on the re-opening announcement, please see the Unite Against COVID-19 website(external link).

More information can be found on the NZ Ministry of Health website.(external link)

Vaccinated (unless exempt) non-New Zealand partners and dependent children of New Zealand citizens can submit a 'Request to Travel(external link)' to New Zealand, through Immigration New Zealand, and enter New Zealand from Step 2 of the re-opening plan(external link).  

Please note: Eligible travellers into New Zealand are still required to meet entry requirements, including:

  • Appropriate documentation/visa for entry to New Zealand
  • A negative pre-departure test(external link)
  • Vaccination requirements(external link)
    Please note:
    From 11:59pm Friday 18 March unvaccinated New Zealand citizens will no longer be required to enter MIQ on arrival into New Zealand but instead enter on the test on arrival pathway.
  • A travel declaration: New Zealand Traveller Declaration(external link) 
  • 2 rapid antigen tests (RATs) on day 0/1 and day 5/6 and declare your results. These will be given to you at the airport. Travellers who return a positive RAT must immediately self-isolate, register their result and follow up with a PCR test.

If you have specific queries relating to MIQ, please refer to their website(external link). You can also email them at: enquiries@miq.govt.nz , or call +64 4 8881670 from outside of New Zealand, or 0800 476 647 (0800 ISOMIQ) from New Zealand between 8am and 10pm, Monday to Sunday, NZST (9pm – 11am BST). 

If you have any questions about the New Zealand Traveller Declaration, you can contact:

  • 0800 359 269 – toll-free calling from New Zealand.
  • 1800 359 269 – toll-free calling from Australia.
  • +64 4 931 5799 – for international callers.

The New Zealand Traveller Declaration contact centre is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Transiting through Singapore to get to New Zealand

As of 22 April 2021, the Singapore Government lifted restrictions for passengers transiting Singapore on flights from the United Kingdom, and passengers will now be able to de-plane in Singapore Changi Airport in order to transit to another flight.

Please note: On 21 February 2022, the pre-departure test requirement for transit travellers was removed for all flights arriving in Singapore.

Pre-departure COVID-19 testing for entry to New Zealand

Since 28 February 2022, most travellers entering New Zealand must provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 result from one of these tests:

  • a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test administered no more than 48 hours before the scheduled departure of your first international flight to New Zealand, or
  • supervised rapid antigen test (RAT) 24 hours before the scheduled departure of your first international flight to New Zealand, or
  • a supervised loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) test 24 hours before the scheduled departure of your first international flight to New Zealand.

You still need a test even if you have been vaccinated for COVID-19, and if you are entering managed isolation (MIQ).

You are responsible for checking your chosen testing provider can provide you with acceptable pre-departure documentation to the specified standard required by the New Zealand Government. Tests from free community testing stations may not be acceptable for travel clearance, so check before your test.

Medical certificates: If you are required to provide a medical certificate because you cannot take a test due to medical reasons, you will also need to get this 48 hours before your flight.

There are a very limited number of people who may be exempt. More information, including details regarding exemptions, is available here(external link)

The test must be undertaken by a recognised provider. We note that the UK Government advises a list of providers, here(external link).

You will need to ensure that any provider you use is a recognised one, and that you allow sufficient time to book the test and get the results prior to travel. If you choose to take an at-home COVID-19 test, it must be processed by a laboratory recognised in the country of origin as authorised or accredited to conduct tests. The key consideration is that tests are processed, interpreted, and results provided by a laboratory recognised in the country.

Either a hard copy or an electronic copy will be accepted. A result received by SMS will only be valid if it includes an image of the laboratory result form. At check in you can expect to provide evidence to airlines of your negative test (or a medical certificate if unable to take a test for medical reasons). If you cannot provide evidence of your negative test you may be denied boarding. You will also be asked to provide this information to a Customs Officer when entering New Zealand, so it is important to keep evidence of your negative test result with you for the entire journey.

Results must be dated, and should have:

- Traveller’s name

- Traveller’s date of birth/or passport number of the person tested

- Date and time the test was conducted

- Name of laboratory at which the COVID-19 test was processed

- Test type

- Test result

Travellers should note that airlines and countries of transit may also ask for evidence of a negative COVID-19 test result, and may have specific requirements for the type of test taken which are different to New Zealand Government requirements (i.e. some airlines will only accept a PCR test, some require results within 48 hours). We strongly suggest checking directly with the airline and relevant transit country for any pre-departure testing requirements prior to travelling.

If you are travelling to New Zealand we encourage you to continue monitoring the Unite Against Covid-19 website(external link) (external link) or social media pages for further information regarding these Pre-Departure Testing requirements.

COVID-19 Vaccination requirements for non-New Zealand citizens

Non-New Zealand citizens who meet the minimum vaccination requirements(external link) (unless exempt(external link)) will not be required to enter MIQ on arrival into New Zealand but instead enter on the test on arrival pathway.

Non-New Zealand citizens (including New Zealand Permanent Residents) who do not meet the minimum vaccination requirements(external link) (unless exempt(external link)) will not be able to travel to New Zealand (this is the same policy(external link) that has been in place since 1 November 2021). 

The minimum vaccination requirements(external link) are defined as any vaccine that has been approved by at least 1 government health authority or approval. There are currently 35 vaccines approved as meeting the definition of minimum vaccination requirements.

Children aged 16 years and under do not need to have proof of vaccination.

 

Other frequently asked travel questions

My flight has been cancelled/changed, what should I do?

Flights across the world are significantly reducing in capacity and the ability to transit through other countries and territories is reducing due to COVID-19 border restrictions. Almost all flight routes back to New Zealand have ceased, and even booked travel is being disrupted. We strongly recommend contacting your airline, travel agent or travel insurance provider immediately for the latest information.

For details on countries and territories which have COVID-19 related border restrictions affecting foreign nationals, including travellers in transit, please check the International Air Transport Association (IATA) website before you travel. The IATA website(external link) is being continually updated.

What are the best routes for getting back to New Zealand from the UK?

We are aware that the options for returning to New Zealand are limited, however there are currently commercial options available. Travellers are strongly encouraged to use a Travel Agent to make bookings as agents are able to assist passengers in keeping up to date with changes and can provide support with re-arrangements and cancellations. We recommend you use a Long Haul Specialist Agent.

We encourage all New Zealanders living and travelling overseas to register on SafeTravel(external link) and update your details, including if you relocate or depart from a country. This allows us to contact you directly with any further significant updates.

The Government is committed to helping New Zealanders overseas where we can. This is an increasingly difficult situation and we understand the uncertainty many travellers are facing. We know that for many New Zealanders, you may be facing difficult choices about staying where you are or looking at options for returning home. We also recognise that not all New Zealanders who want to return home are able to do so. New Zealanders who cannot return home for the time being should continue to take steps to stay safely where they are. Our main concern is that you are safe, whatever decision you make.

I want to travel to New Zealand for a holiday, is this allowed under the current border restrictions?

You can find full details surrounding the requirements for travelling to New Zealand on Immigration New Zealand's website(external link).

If you require further advice or clarification on travelling to New Zealand while current border measures are in place, please contact the Immigration NZ Contact Centre +64 9 952 1679 (outside NZ) 0508 225 288 (within NZ)​.  You can also enlist the aid of a Licensed Immigration Adviser(external link).

Will the NZ High Commission/Government provide funds to get New Zealanders home?

As a New Zealand citizen overseas, you have no right or claim to financial assistance from the New Zealand Government. Refer to the SafeTravel financial difficulties page(external link) for advice if you find yourself in financial difficulties overseas.

We know that cost may be a barrier for some in booking flights home. Please weigh up the cost of booking a flight home now against the cost of you personally staying where you are. If you do not think you have the resources to safely shelter in place where you are for an extended period, talk to your family and friends in the first instance to see how they might be able to support you. You can also contact your nearest New Zealand Embassy or High Commission for advice.

When/how will you notify me if the situation gets worse?

New Zealanders travelling or residing off-shore are encouraged to register their details with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade's (MFAT) SafeTravel website(external link). If you are registered on SafeTravel, you will receive an email advising you of any updates to the travel advisory risk level or significant updates to government advice.

Registering your travel with us also means that it will be easier for us to contact you in an emergency and to send you updated advice even before you leave NZ.

My UK visa will be affected by COVID-19 restrictions, what do I do?

The UK Home Office announced it will extend visas temporarily for those individuals who are currently unable to return home due to travel restrictions or self-isolation requirements related to coronavirus (COVID-19). 

Further and more specific guidance relating to all UK Visa Categories can be found on the GOV.UK website.(external link)

Please note: The New Zealand High Commission does not have any role in the UK immigration process, nor in any decision to allow passengers to stay in or re-enter the UK once their UK visa has expired.

If you intend to leave the UK but have not been able to do so and you have a UK visa or leave that expires before 30 April 2022 you may request additional time to stay, known as ‘exceptional assurance’, by completing the online form(external link).

If you are granted ‘exceptional assurance’ it will act as a short-term protection against any adverse action or consequences after your leave has expired. If conditions allowed you to work, study or rent accommodation you may continue to do so during the period of your exceptional assurance. Exceptional assurance does not grant you leave. After you’ve completed the form, you’ll be told what you’ll need to submit to show why you can’t leave the UK.

More information is available here.(external link)

If you have further UK visa or immigration queries, we suggest you contact the United Kingdom Visas and Immigration (UKVI) service directly. For your convenience, their contact details are:

Website: www.gov.uk/visas-immigration(external link)

Phone: 0300 123 2241

Monday to Thursday, 9:00am to 4:45pm / Friday, 9:00am to 4:30pm

Please note: Call charges apply – see:  www.gov.uk/call-charges(external link)

Additional contact details: www.gov.uk/contact-ukvi-inside-outside-uk(external link)

 

Applying for Long-Term Stay in the UK:

If you decide to stay in the UK long-term, you should apply for the necessary leave to remain in the UK. You’ll also be able to submit an application form from within the UK where you would usually need to apply for a visa from your home country.

You’ll need to meet the requirements of the route you’re applying for and pay the UK application fee.

The terms of your leave will remain the same until your application is decided. If you are switching into work(external link) or study(external link) routes you may be able to commence work or study whilst your application is under consideration. 

More information is available at: www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-for-uk-visa-applicants-and-temporary-uk-residents(external link)

Can I freeze my UK visa if I go home?

The UK Home Office is responsible for the administration of UK visas. As we understand it, the Home Office currently has no plans to 'freeze' the remaining time left of visas while someone is out of the UK, nor is it possible under their current policy.

Who can the High Commission help?

Consular services are available to New Zealand citizens outside New Zealand (whether or not they normally live in New Zealand). New Zealand citizens who also hold citizenship of another country ("dual nationals") may not be entitled to assistance from the New Zealand Government if they entered a country on their non-New Zealand passport, or if they are in the country of their other nationality.

I am a British national currently in New Zealand – how can I get assistance?

As a UK national in New Zealand, the British High Commission are your best point of contact for consular assistance: British High Commission, Wellington(external link).

The British High Commission has established a register for British nationals in the New Zealand in order to identify those in need of assistance. The form can be found on their Facebook and Twitter pages, or at this link(external link).

Please sign up for this service so they can communicate with you directly.

NHS advice

The NHS is continuing to update their guidance on COVID-19(external link) including ways to avoid catching the virus, what the symptoms are and course of action you should take if you are concerned you may need medical help.

There are various ways that you can take action yourself to contain the spread:

Do:

  • wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds always wash your hands when you get home or into work
  • use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
  • put used tissues in the bin straight away and wash your hands afterwards
  • try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell

Don’t:

Consular assistance

If you are a New Zealand citizen and require emergency consular assistance please call +64 99 20 20 20 (outside New Zealand) or 0800 30 10 30 (within New Zealand) although please note this does not include providing tailored advice for any intended travel.

For further information and answers to frequently asked questions see our dedicated COVID-19 information page on SafeTravel(external link)

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